Sony scraps VOD, DVD, streaming releases for the Interview

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 19 December 2014

For those hoping to eventually stream the Seth Rogan/James Franco movie that sparked a cyberwar there's bad news: Sony has no plans to make the film available digitally. Or in any other form. Ever.

team-america-2Just a day after Regal, AMC and all other theatre chains in the US decided to boycott the Interview, citing terrorism concerns, the film's producer, Sony Pictures, confirmed that there are no further plans for releasing the $42 million film in any format.

Sony is at the middle of a massive data breach, after a cyber-attack forced the IT department to shut down the corporate network. The attackers call themselves the Guardians of Peace, and it's believed that North Korea is behind the incident, in retaliation for the release of the Interview.

The film features Rogan and Franco as hapless journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang has called the film "an act of war."

So far the GOP has leaked the salary and Social Security numbers for thousands of Sony employees, private emails between executives, information about the future of the Spider-Man franchise, upcoming movies like Fury and Annie online, and the script to the next James Bond movie.

But it was the group's latest threat, "Remember the 11th of September 2001," that sent theatres running for cover. And despite initial support for the film, Sony has backed down too, with a decision to shelve the movie permanently, even when it comes to DVDs and cable video-on-demand access.

"We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees and the American public," Sony said in a statement. "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

The situation has the industry up in arms over what this means for artistic freedom and censorship, and the fact that the hackers got what they demanded. Must all films be geo-politically vetted from now on?

"Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers," tweeted filmmaker Michael Moore.

Some independent theatres were planning screenings of Team America: World Police instead, which spoofs now-deceased "Dear Leader" Kim Jong II, but Paramount pulled the film from library distribution to prevent public screenings. In addition, as further evidence of a chilling effect, New Regency has scuttled an untitled thriller from director Gore Verbinski and starring Steve Carell, which was due to start production in March. It was going to be set in North Korea.